Ridgewood Y stops smokers from lighting up

Representatives with the Ridgewood YMCA and North Shore-LIJ celebrate non-smoking with daycare children. Photo by Steve Mosco
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The butts stop here.

To commemorate the Great American Smoke Out, a nationally recognized day encouraging smokers to set a date to quit, the Ridgewood YMCA welcomed North Shore-LIJ to educate 36 preschoolers about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.

The Ridgewood YMCA, at 69-02 64th St., also used the annual awareness event as an occasion to establish a smoke-free outdoor air policy in an effort to protect the public from exposure to secondhand smoke. The YMCA’s outdoor air policy prohibits smoking within 15 feet of its entrances or exits.

“The Ridgewood YMCA is committed to the health of our community. This smoke-free, outdoor air policy will ensure that our sidewalks and entrances are free from the harms of secondhand smoke,” said Caitlin Moonesar, membership and healthy lifestyles director at the Y. “Our kids, teens and families will be able to come into the Ridgewood YMCA knowing there will always be clean air in and around the Y.”

Making the vicinity of its building a smoke free zone is part of a wider effort by the Y to incorporate smoking awareness among young minds and their clean lungs.

Nancy Copperman, MS, RD, CDN, director of public health initiatives at North Shore-LIJ, met with the children to warn them about the ills of smoking and how cigarettes are marketed to them.

Copperman showed the wide-eyed youngsters a picture of a cigarette ad placed at their eye level inappropriately close to ads for candy.

According to Copperman, people are most likely to start smoking in their adolescence and young adulthood. More than 600,000 middle schoolers and 3 million high schoolers smoke cigarettes, according to a U.S. Surgeon General report, and about 90 percent of smokers begin the habit before age 18.

Cooperman said the younger the children are when they start smoking, the more likely they are to become addicted.

The North Shore-LIJ staff visited two classrooms to spread the anti-smoking message. When asked if they knew about the dangers of smoking, children in both classes eagerly yelled out answers such as “They stink!” and “They make it hard to breathe!”

Copperman said she wants to create an environment where young people are informed about the dangers of smoking and believes this will help maintain healthy and clean air for everyone to breath.

“Our perspective is to promote smoke-free environments so that it will make it easier for smokers to quit and stay quit as well as prevent youth from becoming smokers,” she said. “The Ridgewood YMCA has made a public commitment to the health of its members, staff and the residents of Ridgewood to become a smoke-free facility both inside and outside. Ridgewood residents will breathe easy as they will no longer have to walk through a cloud of tobacco smoke to enter or exit.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Posted 6:49 pm, November 20, 2012
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